What’s in a style

Wood no longer dressed like stone: Stick-style

Alameda is famous for its  Victorian-era homes built during Queen Victoria’s reign from 1837 to 1901. One of these, in the Stick style, is pictured on the right. 

Alameda Museum Curator George Gunn tells us that George Stark built this home in 1880 for Isaac Ayer. 

Ayer earned his living as the United States gauger in San Francisco, making certain that businesses selling items by weight  or measure did so honestly. Ayer sold the home in 1883 to Professor Hoymeyer, the musical director at San Francisco’s Bush Street Theater. This home stands today at 1527 Willow St. near Lincoln Avenue.  

Decorative detailing  evident on this home is unlike detailing of the earlier Italianate-style homes. Builders shaped that detailing to resemble stone. Stick-style builders did not have stone in mind. They shaped elements simply allowing the wood to be wood. Especially evident are these homes’ squared-off windows instead of the Italianate-style bay windows.

Because the architects stopped forcing wood to substitute for stone, architectural historian Vincent Scully labeled the style as “Stick.” Stick-style homes feature wood siding, steep gabled roofs, overhanging eaves and decorative braces and brackets,

Architects and builders dressed some Stick-style homes using ideas borrowed from Queen Victoria’s furniture designer Charles Eastlake. 

Learn more about Alameda’s’ Victorian-era styles in Dennis Evanosky’s book Alameda: An Architectural Treasure Chest; call 263-1470 to learn how to purchase a copy.